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Commems Collection: Dates Are Not Always What They Appear To Be

 
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 Posted 01/22/2022  11:09 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I've written before that the classic-era US commemorative coin series, almost from its start, played a bit loose with the dates that appear on the coins. It all began with the "dateless" Lafayette dollar that was struck in 1899 but is, technically, per the US Mint, "undated." (See below for a Lafayette date discussion.)

But the Lafayette was certainly not the last commemorative coin to feature a date that did not accurately reflect when the coin was minted or the who/what it commemorated. I've compiled a list of these date mismatch coins and present it here:

                                 Coin      Year      Event 
Issue                            Date     Struck     Year      Notes 

Lafayette Memorial               1900      1899      1900       1 
Alabama Statehood Centennial     1921      1921      1919       2
Oregon Trail Memorial            1926-39   1926-39   ? ? ?      3
Daniel Boone Birth Bicentennial  1935-38   1935-38   1934       4 
Arkansas Statehood Centennial    1935-39   1935-39   1936       5
Texas Independence Centennial    1934-38   1934-38   1936       6
Elgin, IL Centennial             1936      1936      1935       7 
Delaware Tercentenary            1936      1937      1938       8 
Battle of Gettysburg             1936      1937      1938       9
Norfolk, VA Bicentennial/
  Tricentennial                  1936      1937      1936       10 
New Rochelle, NY 250th 
  Anniversary                    1938      1937      1938       11

Notes:

1. All examples of the Lafayette dollar were struck on December 14, 1899 (the 100th anniversary of George Washington's death). The Lafayette Memorial Commission desired a "1900" dated coin - the year the US' Lafayette statue was to be presented to France - but the US Mint was not authorized to strike coins with a date that differed from the year in which it was struck, As a compromise, the Mint included "1900" as part of the inscription on the reverse as the date of the Paris Exposition; the coin does not feature a standard date.

Per the US Mint, the "1900" is not the coin's date, but rather the date of the Paris Exposition. Technically, the coin does not feature a date - as noted above, the coins were struck in December 1899.

2. Alabama marked the 100th anniversary of its admission into the Union in 1919. It was not until after this date, however, that a commemorative coin proposal was introduced in Congress. Though the proposal was passed in May 1920, the Mint did not strike the Alabama Statehood Centennial half dollar until fairly late in 1921. As the coin's enabling Act did not specify a date for it, the Mint followed its standard procedure and dated the coins for the year they were struck - 1921.

3. The Oregon Trail Memorial half dollar has one of the more unusual date stories. The first year of issue for the coin was 1926 - a year for which no Oregon Trail milestone anniversary date was celebrated. The coin was also struck (and dated) in 1928, 1933, 1934 and annually from 1936 through 1939; in addition to strikes by the Philadelphia Mint, some years also saw coins struck in Denver and/or San Francisco. No specific Oregon Trail anniversaries were commemorated over the coin's run, though several somewhat-related events were grafted on in an attempt to spur sales (e.g., 1933 "Century of Progress" coin - the tie-in came about from the fact that the coins were marketed at the exposition).

4. The 200th anniversary of Daniel Boone's birth occurred in 1934; commemorative half dollars were struck and dated "1934" - as would be expected. The problem occurs in 1935, 1936, 1937 and 1938 - the US Mint stated it was required to place the year of striking on the coins. By doing so, the dates were no longer bicentennial years. The Boone Commission succeeded in 1935 in getting their original coin legislation amended so as to have a small "1934" added to the coin's design so that the bicentennial year would continue to be recalled on later strikes/issues.

5. Arkansas Half Dollar marked the 100th anniversary of its Statehood in 1936. It got a jump start on the celebrations, however, with a 1935-dated half dollar. The Arkansas Centennial Commission then followed the formal anniversary year with additional releases in 1937, 1938 and 1939. (At least funds raised by the coins supported public projects vs. solely private profits.)

6. Texas celebrated the 100th anniversary of its independence from Mexico in 1936. To aid in the construction of the Texas State Museum, coins were issued beginning in 1934, and continued through 1938 - another case of pre- and post-anniversary coin issues! There's nothing like getting a two-year head start on things!

7. The City of Elgin, IL was founded in 1835 and celebrated its centennial with various events in 1935. The Act authorizing the commemorative half dollar stipulated a date of "1936." While the coin, ostensibly, had the objective of marking the 100th anniversary of Elgin's founding (an event that had already occurred), it was more directly intended to be a fundraiser in support of the Pioneer Memorial statue already in process by sculptor Trygve Rovelstad. Not enough funds were raised to complete the Memorial, however, and it was mothballed for decades. (You can read more about it via the link below.)

8. The Delaware Tercentenary half dollar was authorized in May 1936 and included the specification that struck coins were to feature a "1936" date; the designs for the coin were not approved by the Commission of Fine Arts until December, 1936. The Delaware Tercentenary coins were struck in 1937 and delivered to the sponsor; sales of the coin began. Delaware's actual 300th anniversary took place in 1938, and it is in that year that it held its official tercentenary celebrations. In addition the the mandated "1936," the coin also features the dual commemorative dates "1638-1938" to mark the tercentenary.

9. The Battle of Gettysburg half dollar was "penalized" for proper planning and calendar management. The coin was proposed early enough for it to be authorized in 1936 even though its targeted 75th anniversary event was not to be commemorated until 1938 (the battle took place July 1 - July 3, 1863). Unfortunately, the authorizing legislation specified a "1936" date for the coins. On the up side, the coins were struck in 1937 and available for sale ahead of the anniversary and corresponding Blue and Gray Reunion of 1938.

10. The Norfolk half dollar was not authorized until late June 1937, but its authorizing legislation stipulated that the coins must be dated "1936" regardless of when they were struck; production at the Mint in Philadelphia took place in September, 1937. Regardless of production date requirements, the coin marked anniversaries connected to 1636 - 1936 was the true anniversary year and so it makes sense for the coin to bear the "1936" date (especially since the coin was a one-year issue).

11. The New Rochelle half dollar was authorized in May 1936, but its authorizing legislation stipulated that the coins must be dated "1938" regardless of when they were struck; the Mint struck the coins in 1937 with a "1938" date. The 250th anniversary of New Rochelle's settling occurred in 1938. IMO, this is how the dating on commemorative coins should be - they should feature the anniversary date of the who/what they commemorate vs. other dates that just add confusion. (This assumes a near-date striking; I would not, for example, support giving a coin the appearance of being from 1938 if it was struck 25 years later in 1963.)


For more on the Elgin, IL Pioneer Memorial Statue:

- 1936 Elgin, IL Centennial Vs. City Of Elgin


For other of my posts on each of the commemorative half dollars mentioned, check out: Commems Collection.



Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
01/22/2022 11:10 am
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 Posted 01/22/2022  4:36 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Classic Coins to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you for the interesting and very informative post, commems.
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 Posted 01/22/2022  9:25 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@Classic_Coins: You're very welcome - I'm glad you found value in it!


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 Posted 01/23/2022  06:58 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Fascinating summary commems. I was generally aware of the 'loose' interpretation of dating these coins and your excellent summary clarified several misunderstandings I had.

I would like to amplify your commentary on the Norfolk VA coin. It contains five separate year dates, none of which is the actual 1937 mintage date!

Follow them here:



On the obverse;
TOWNSHIP 1682
BOROUGH 1736
CITY 1845
And the 'date' 1936

On the reverse:
LAND GRANT 1636
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 Posted 01/23/2022  08:27 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@nickelsearcher: Beautiful example of the Norfolk!

Yes, the 1938 Norfolk is definitely the answer to the trivia question: "Which classic-era US commemorative coin has the most dates incorporated into its design?" (Norfolk, with Five)

Multi-dated anniversary coins, such as:

- 1921 Pilgrim Tercentenary: 1620, 1920 and 1921 (the year the coin was struck)
- 1921 Alabama Statehood Centennial: 1819, 1919 and 1921 (the year the coin was struck)
- 1936 Delaware Tercentenary: 1638, 1938 and 1936 (the year mandated by Congress)
- 1936 Battle of Gettysburg 75th Anniversary: 1863, 1938 and 1936 (the year mandated by Congress)
- 1938 New Rochelle: 1688, 1899 and 1938 (the coin lacks "1937" which is the year it was struck)
- Arkansas Statehood Centennial: 1836, 1936 and 1935/36/37/38/39 (the year the coin was struck)
- Texas Independence Centennial: 1836, 1936 and 1934/35/36/37/38 (the year the coin was struck)

all have three dates, but are all a distant second to the Norfolk!

Note: I didn't include the Roanoke Colony Memorial Half Dollar on the above list; though it features three separate year-dates: 1637, 1937 and 1937, 1937 is repeated. So, I consider the coin - via technicality - to have two distinct dates. The same technicality could be called up for, specifically, the 1936 Arkansas Statehood and 1936 Texas Independence Centennial half dollars within the programs listed above.





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 Posted 01/23/2022  08:37 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@commems, thank you - the Norfolk pictured is in my MS type set at PCGS MS67 CAC. While it is indeed a shining example of the highly cluttered design, IMHO it pales in rarity and beauty to its brother in my circulated type set.



Still difficult for me to believe this coin circulated in commerce long enough to reach it's present PCGS VF25 state!

Sorry for temporarily distracting the date discussion - I just enjoy showing my well circulated examples on occasion. Returning the thread now back to the original topic.
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 Posted 01/23/2022  09:33 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Bump111 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting statistics and good additions to the classic commen archives.

What are your thoughts on the 1893 Columbian half? Since the expo got off to a late start, the 1892 reflected the anniversary date, but not the expo date and the 1893 vice versa (unless I'm off base with that assertion...)?
"Nummi rari mira sunt, si sumptus ferre potes." - Christophorus filius Scotiae
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 Posted 01/23/2022  10:20 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
What are your thoughts on the 1893 Columbian half? Since the expo got off to a late start, the 1892 reflected the anniversary date, but not the expo date and the 1893 vice versa (unless I'm off base with that assertion...)?

Your date assertion is correct.

I consider the World's Columbian Exposition half dollars a bit differently due to the nature of the legislation that authorized them. The Act did not reference a specific date -1892 or 1893 - for the coins, it simply stated that the coins were to be struck and used "for the purpose of aiding in defraying the cost of completing in a suitable manner the work of preparation for inaugurating the World's Columbian Exposition."

To me, as the construction of the Exposition grounds and preparation of its exhibits stretched over 1892 and 1893, having coins bearing each date does not raise any issue.


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 Posted 01/24/2022  2:52 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
As always, thank you for sharing the (with respect) "nerdier" numismatic information!
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